This past Friday, 18 March 2016, was the final day of the Game Developers Conference 2016 (GDC2016) in San Francisco. (In case you missed them, check out the posts from Day 1 and Day 2.)

Touring the main exhibit hall, I saw a good few smaller development shops, localization companies, and hardware companies. Though it is important to give you an idea of the international scope of GDC. As I described on my Day 1 blog, even in the GDC Play area you had contingents from Canada, Norway and Switzerland. In the main hall, you had impressive pavilions from other nations, all seeking to bring development into their nation, and eager to export games developed in their markets to international audiences.20160317_141516Scotland, with its distinctive vexillology featuring the saltire Cross of Saint Andrews, was the nexus for Scottish Development International. With its major creative hub in Dundee, the potential growth in the Scottish games industry could “make North Sea oil look like a drop in the ocean,” if proponents can be believed. Given the success of titles like Rock Star’s Grand Theft Auto, which made a billion dollars (US) within three days of its 2013 release, we can believe it!

20160318_142409Singapore’s booth brought representatives from the Games Solution Centre (GSC) to America. The GSC is an initiative by Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) and is managed by Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). Over 60 companies are part of Singapore’s game industry, with local publishers like Touch Dimensions and international subsidiaries such as Ubisoft Singapore.20160318_143154Our southern neighbor México was not to be outdone. Currently the 13th largest market in the world, México wanted to show the world they host a myriad of publishers beyond Squad, and have far more titles than just Kerbal Space Program (KSP) in their portfolio. If you’re not familiar with the growth of gaming in Mexico, check out this article from a few months back in VentureBeat.

20160318_142359We recently featured the Republic of Korea in an article, showing how it is now the most developed nation in East Asia. It is also the country where consumers were spending more on virtual goods than anywhere else in the world until the government put a monthly cap on it, likening online gaming to drug addiction. Young Koreans love their games so much the government also had to enact a “Cinderella” law to ensure kids under 16 got offline between midnight to 6 AM! All of this has caused massive turmoil and a strategic shift in Korean game development, with many companies looking to expand into China, while, at the same time, many Chinese firms are coming into Korea to purchase developers hurting from the government industry controls. Yet if you were in the Korea booth at GDC, you saw none of this. The staffer I talked to spoke ebulliently about her raiding experiences in the World of Warcraft (she gushingly told me all about her frost mage!), while showing off some of the latest animation tools.

20160318_132801If the Korean pavilion was gushing about games, I found the German pavilion the opposite: very down to business. Their GDC press release was all about economics, citing billions of euros spent and jobs created. Well, with one exception. While I was there, I had the chance to talk to the folks at Kalypso Media, based out of Worms, publishers of Tropico 5 and soon-to-be-published Urban Empire. They had not been aware of the old tongue-in-cheek board game Junta, which I had worked on while at West End Games back in late 1980s. I always had a suspicion that Junta inspired the original 2001 version of Tropico from PopTop Software, and suggested they get a copy of the board game to play around the office at lunch time. Meanwhile, did you know the military dictatorship of Thailand took such offense at the game Tropico, which lets you run your own military dictatorship, that they banned the game in 2014? Talk about taking games seriously!20160318_132415Chile’s pavilion, by ProChile, highlighted the work of 20 companies, positioning the nation as “a center of video game production in Latin America.” If you played Fallout Shelter, the multi-award-winning bottle-cap-collecting post-Apocalyptic mobile game that heralded the arrival of Bethesda’s Fallout 4, then you’ve played a game developed in Chile.

20160318_124855The Italian game market was ranked number 10 in the world for 2015 by Newzoo. Out of a total population of 61 million, nearly 24 million are classified as gamers. Two years ago, Mauro Fanelli of MixedBag was quoted saying, “Italy is historically more a consumer country than a producing one. But in the last few years, we have seen a growing presence of little and medium start-ups trying to change that assumption.” The presence this year at Italy’s pavilion was the proof of that transition. Indeed, there are now over 100 game studios in Italy, the majority of which were founded in the past three years.20160318_130306At the Swedish pavilion, I found Stunlock Studios showing off Battlerite, the latest team arena brawler. Looks very polished, and I’m sure that folks that sign up for the beta will have a lot of fun.

20160318_131003The Swedish game industry has a special place in my own game library, especially the games produced by Paradox Interactive, such as Europa Universalis IV and Crusader Kings II. I missed running into them at the show, but they announced releases for Stellaris, their space exploration game, and their World War II epic, Hearts of Iron 4, which will be released on 6 June — D-Day!

Beyond the big publishers, when I asked the Swedish pavilion staff to show me something fun and unique, they took me to a small indie game: Clustertruck. The idea for this new LandFall Games offering was born out of a long road trip back from a convention. The inspiration of being cooped up for extended hours in a care with fellow game designers bore some twisted fruit! In Clustertruck, your job in the game is, quite literally, to ride herd over a bunch of runaway semi trailer trucks. At the start of the game they all take off in one direction, like some automotive crazed cattle drive. You have to ride the roofs as long as possible, leaping from one truck to another safely before they wreck into each other or plow into obstacles in the world. The object is to ride the rigs as far and as long as possible. What happens if you fall off? Like a kid’s game, the answer was obviously explained to me: “The ground is lava!” Hilarious!

This is only the briefest of glimpses into GDC. I didn’t really touch on some of the more hardware and platform-oriented news. Goggles for VR, motion capture rigs, haptic interfaces. I didn’t get to touch on the more business-oriented elements of advertising, consumer tracking, or commercialization. And once again, I have to state all of the observations made in this article are solely for the benefit of readers, and present no commercial relationship between any mentioned party with e2f. Hopefully you’ve gotten a good glimpse into the world of GDC and the state of global gaming. Was there something I missed? Send links to your own favorite moments of GDC to us on Twitter at @e2ftranslations.

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